by Steve Giovanis with Sarah Lane
Approximately three dozen people gathered at the Waterfront Park Community Center Tuesday night, September 17, eager to discuss the potential for a Bainbridge-based low-power FM radio station in anticipation of the October 15 deadline for station applications from communities across the country. The FCC-issued deadline follows President Obama’s signing of the Local Community Radio Act in January 2011, which authorized the addition of hundreds of new community radio stations to the regular FM band.
Sustainable Bainbridge organized the event to field programming ideas for a proposal to submit to the FCC. If the FCC were to award such a license to Bainbridge, the station would have enough power to reach more than 80 percent of the island, with the rest covered by Internet streaming. Such a station could, in addition to providing general programs of interest to the community such as arts and entertainment programs, also play a key role during emergencies and disasters. The station could also provide broadcast radio training.
Sustainable Bainbridge presenters informed the crowd that the radio station would be noncommercial and invite sponsorships much like NPR does. Tuesday night’s attendees were also told that the station would offer at least eight hours of live, on-air time, from 8:00 a.m to midnight. Ham radio and amateur radio enthusiasts would provide backup broadcasts during emergencies.
Some of the programming ideas discussed included featuring local bands, broadcasting speaking events and interviews with members of local government, offering educational programming from local schools, live sports broadcasts, and information about traffic backups and ferry delays. One member of the audience, yours truly—Steve, suggested live audio and video broadcasts from the Battle Point Park observatory, including streaming video from telescopes during major astronomy-related events.
Sabrina Roach, who works at Brown Paper Tickets as a media supporter to help community-minded radio and new media projects get going and succeed, also addressed the crowd. She said she has been working with fifteen communities in the King, Pierce, and Kitsap county area to assist them as they pursue FCC licensing. The communities include Seatac, Rainer Valley, White Center, South Park, and the University District. Currently there are no communities in Kitsap offering strictly local programming.
Fire Chief Hank Teran informed the crowd that the Fire Department would be happy to have the broadcast antenna placed at Fire Station 21, at Madison and 305.
Former City Councilmember and Sustainable Bainbridge member Barry Peters is one of the people leading the station application effort. He called the potential for a Bainbridge station license “a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
Sustainable Bainbridge will be seeking letters of support for the license application. Contact them at email@example.com or phone (206) 842-4439. For more information, visit the Sustainable Bainbridge website at www.SustainableBainbridge.org.
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Photos by Steve Giovanis.